Ferdinand Bruckner was born Theodor Tagger on August 26, 1891, in Vienna, Austria. His father was a banker from Vienna, and his mother was French, although she herself had been born in Constantinople. The family ancestors on the father’s side were Jewish, and they had been forced to leave Spain, the country of their origin. They subsequently settled in Bulgaria. Bruckner felt an allegiance to France and to the French language, and he mastered French at an early age, primarily as a result of his mother’s influence. His home city, however, was Vienna; there he received most of his schooling, although he also attended schools in Graz and in Berlin. His first language, therefore, was German—even though he attributed to his mother and her interest in French literature his own interest in literary creativity. His mother also seems to have had a major impact on his work as a playwright, for most of his plays portray females as figures central to the action, and many of these figures seem to possess an energy unmatched by the males.
Bruckner also had an interest in music, and after his school graduation in 1909, he studied at the Paris Conservatory. His first published writings, in fact, were essays on composers such as Georges Bizet and Hugo Wolff. In 1911 Bruckner moved to Berlin to attend business school and also to study music with the composer Franz Streker. In 1913 he matriculated at the University of Vienna to study German philology and music history. He ceased formal study in 1914 and in that year joined the German military forces; he was released from active duty in 1915 as a result of a lung ailment.
Bruckner’s experience in the military, brief though it was, served nevertheless to provoke a strong antiwar sentiment in his writing. By this time he had published pacifist essays and poems, and the wartime experience...
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